Of the two Asiatic Communist-dominated national segments to emerge from World War II, both North Korea and North Vietnam had much in common. Both were headed by charismatic Nationalist leaders, Korea’s Kim-Il-Sung and Vietnamese populist liberator Ho Chi-Minh. The two nations were partitioned at war’s end. Although nominally allied to the Soviet Union, these two nationalist entities threw off the shackles of colonialist and Japanese occupation in laying the groundwork for their future internal economic and political development.
Both fought savage wars against the U.S.-led NATO forces in the early 1950′s and mid 1960′s-1970′s, respectively. But in the aftermath, North Korea and Vietnam followed completely disparate paths on both political and economic fronts.
After three years of inconclusive fighting, a Chinese-backed Pyongyang (N. Korean) regime signed a still-prevailing armistice that has driven the Sung family-led Communist government into deep seclusion, controlled by one of the world’s largest standing armies, with a nuclear capability. This is supported by a half-starving population and “charitable” Chinese and Western nations’ support to keep it alive as a buffer against Japan and a thriving South Korea.
Vietnam, on the other hand, has become the third fastest-growing economy of the Southeast Asian quadrant. Only China, which has lately stalled, and India can boast of greater overall economic success in the past two decades.
With a future double digit annual growth in the offing, the horrors of the ten year military devastation faced by both North and South Vietnam in the 1960-70′s war have been largely eradicated. This has been followed by the reunification of 90 million former Indo-Chinese, who have built a balanced agro-industrial society that has also developed one of the world’s most effective per capita export economies.
Although nominally Communist, Vietnam, like the People’s Republic of China, has utilized capitalist principles of free markets, together with government control of politico-economic direction to gain the unexpected footprint that now has vaulted Vietnam into the forefront of current growth and future development. As the saying goes, “You can’t quarrel with success.”
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